In his song “Just a Memory,” Elvis Costello sings, “Losing you is just a memory / Memories don’t mean that much to me.” Ouch! In fact, and when you hear Costello’s voice, you understand that his lines are ironic.
The truth is that memories mean everything to most people. It is generally understood that memories color or discolor relationships, experiences, work, play and notions of success or lack of success in life. They also shape our notions of whom we think we are.
Elvis adds later, “But the pen that I write with won’t tell the truth / ‘Cause the moments that I can’t recall / Are the moments that you treasure.” Herein lies the rub with memories: You might (or likely) have memories that another does not have, and thus cannot relate to, even when that memory seems absolutely real for you. Since the other person’s memories don’t coincide with yours, there is no common ground, and that creates insurmountable obstacles to long- and short-term relationships alike.
Think about this: Mark Twain penned, “It isn’t so astonishing, the number of things that I can remember, as the number of things I can remember that aren’t so.” How, and where, does Twain strike you?
Everyone is completely convinced that his/her version of history is the correct version, so what do you do when you find that your version and the other person’s version differ?
Do you try to talk them into your version? Again and again and again, like, “If I keep telling them what really happened, they’ll sooner or later remember correctly.”
Do you accept the fact that your memory is faulty, and therefore, believe that your memory cannot be trusted?
Do you find yourself on one end or the other end of this continuum, or do you rest somewhere in between?
I think the key to sanity in this “he said/ she said” conundrum can best be found in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s quotation: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still function.”
The fact is, you are both correct. You have one memory: Yours, and the other person has another memory: Theirs. Someone is bound to object here with, “But somebody has to be right, don’t they? What really happened has to be what really happened, correct?”
The answer is definitively, “Yes. And what really happened is that two (or more) people experienced something, and no two people can experience exactly the same thing.
History is more likely to be more a function of agreement than it is of actual facts. The truth lives somewhere in the middle, and thus we discover a place of gratitude for all of our memories. Truly, they can separate, or they can connect. What choose, Ye?